The Last Word | March 05, 2013
>>> now the results are clear. new jersey has turned around and is growing again.
>> 71% of new jersey voters say chris christie deserves re-election. that may have influenced newark mayor cory booker not running for governor and choosing to run for what will be an open senate seat instead. so what democrat will run against chris christie ? joining me now in a "last word" exclusive interview, the only new jersey democrat with the courage to step forward and run against chris christie so far, new jersey state senator, barbara beno. it's her first national interview. thanks very much for joining me, senator.
>> thanks for having me.
>> so you look at the polls, chris christie with this big approval rating now, and you think, okay, this is my moment. this is when i need to run for governor against chris christie ?
>> actually, that's not why i'm running. why i'm running, people ask me all the time, they say, barbara, it takes courage to run and i really don't feel that way. i don't see how i couldn't run. new jersey , the state that we're in is just unacceptable. we have the highest unemployment in over three decades, it's stuck at 10%. we have, you know, our property taxes are still the highest in the nation. they have -- the burden has increased 20% under this governor. you know, we have foreclosures that are the second highest in the nation. the middle class and the working poor are suffering. and this governor has turned his back on them. they are voiceless, and they need someone there to stand up for them. and you know, i feel their struggle, because i've lived it. my father was an immigrant from italy, came here when he was 3 years old. dropped out of high school , became a union butcher. my mom was an office worker and then a substitute teacher and we lived in a walkup, in a rented apartment, where my parents slept in the living room in a foldout bed so my sisters and i could use the bedroom. we didn't have a lot of money, but we had opportunity. when my father died, i was 19 and i was able to stay in montclair state because college was affordable then and i was able to get loans and pay them off because there were jobs back then to pay them off. my father died, as i said, when i was 19, so when i graduated college, it was 1975 and it was another recession. and i just couldn't find a job, didn't have a place to live, i had a fire in the basement of my apartment building , so i lost everything. i didn't have a job, i didn't have a place to live, i actually was on food stamps for a short while. actually made the call to the welfare office in essex county and i was scared, but i got lucky. i was able to go and live with my relatives in newark for a while. and i was able to go to rutgers law school the next year because of a national defense student loan . so i'm running, because of the opportunities that i had -- i'm under no illusion, if i grew up now into the circumstances that i was born into, i wouldn't be here as a state senator running for the governor of new jersey .
>> senator, one of the local papers said you should not be written off, and having just heard your introductory remarks of this campaign, i don't think you can be written off in new jersey . and they said, the local papers said that you are the anti- christie . how do you see yourself as the anti- christie ?
>> well, you know, i see myself as, there's certainly a stark contrast between myself and governor christie . governor christie supports. his idea of jump-starting the economy is to propose a trickle-down income tax cut last area. and me and his budget addressed this year, he stated his support for it again. i support property tax cuts for everyone else. you know, he coddles millionaires while the rest of new jerseyans are struggling under the highest property taxes in the nation. and our state is unfortunately, and i hate to say this, but we are at the bottom of the barrel in economic growth . we're number 47. so i would have is an economic plan to pull new jersey out of the dire straits we're in. this governor's economic message was a campaign speech. he's in denial about our economy. either he doesn't realize or he doesn't care about the middle class and the working poor in new jersey , who are struggling to make ends meet. i mean, he's out of touch. he actually vetoed a minimum wage increase. he sent